Today I met my writing buddymjryan and while I didn’t get any writing done we had a long and effective conversation about the writing process, ego and confidence.
It was very helpful for me to have her express where she’s at both mentally and physically with her writing and I think she was helped by what little advice I could offer from the perspective of someone who has some things published. We mostly talked about the difference between Writer Wannabes and Writers. She’s definitely in the latter camp but doesn’t always see it or believe she’s there or believe she’s earned it. That’s understandable.
One thing I got to thinking about was the confidence thing. I understand how some people have a problem with that. I did, too. Now in full disclosure I happen to carry around a rather large and unmanageable ego so there’s very little writing-wise that I don’t think I am capable of. I guess there’s also a bit of experience on my side that gives me confidence. I mean, as I was telling my writing buddy, I feel I could write a straight up romance if I had to. That doesn’t mean it would be very good, but I have the confidence I could do it if I wanted. Does that make sense?
In other words, there’s no genre I feel I can’t write. Maybe it’s wrong to think that. I don’t know. But that’s how I feel, right or wrong. I have that much confidence in myself. Now to be fair I have no intention of writing something like that because there are other genres I prefer to work in.
I guess some of that confidence is earned. I have sold over thirty short stories and articles to professional and professional magazines, I’m a member of SFWA and have a membership pending with HWA and I sold my first novel in 2005. Pretty cool. Not the best in the world, maybe, and I’m not satisfied with just that, but not bad for now.
Nevertheless our conversation got me to thinking all about confidence and awareness and “paying your dues” when it comes to writing. Like I said, I’m maybe not a perfect candidate to use for a generalization about this because I am a bit of a lunatic to begin with. That probably colors my perception of reality just a tad. I admit that. But knowing you’re a nut is half the battle of dealing with being a nut, so I feel I’m in a good place there, too.
Of course, on the flip side there’s the whole “I’m a writer I’m not sure this is correct here’s my angst pity me” which I’m also familiar with. Yes, I probably have WAY too much confidence for my particular talent pool. But that doesn’t mean I also don’t have a healthy dollop of angst mixed in as well to leaven that confidence.
Writers. Man. It’s a wonder we function at all.
The last thing we talked about was believing in yourself. I think this can help you more than anything else when writing. I remember someone asked me many years ago “Have you sold a novel?” and without even thinking I answered, “Not yet.”
Later he told me he was very impressed with that answer. He said it told him a lot about the mindset of a writer, how you had to believe in yourself even if no one else did. I guess that’s what I’m trying to get across in this essay. You have to be all about the “Not yet, but I’m capable of doing it” rather than the “No, I haven’t, I’m still failing.”
Believe in yourself. Trust yourself. And never give up.
Do those three things, and even in the midst of a blizzard of rejections you will one day get that acceptance letter that validates the belief you had in yourself.
Or you could just be a whack job like I am and live in your own little fantasy world where you’re the Superhero who saves the day. Hey, that works too.
I’m living proof of what straight-up lunacy will get you.